The British Council in Turkey presented the inclusive arts festival Unlimited Forum between 2–4 February 2023 in İstanbul. While showcasing works by disabled artists, cultural professionals and art institutions from Turkey, the UK and the Wider Europe region, the festival also aimed to improve the mindsets of arts and culture professionals about accessibility and inclusion to create wider impact on the perception of inclusive arts in society.

The programme of the three-day festival, held at Yapı Kredi bomontiada and its vicinity, ranged from new performances and panels with local and international speakers to workshops and concerts.

You can watch the documentary of the festival including its highlights in the video above. You can turn on English subtitles via the CC button. 

Thursday, 2 February 2023 – Programme

Location: Babylon Istanbul

19.30–19.45: Opening remarks

19.45–20.30: Keynote: Jess Thom, Touretteshero

Jess Thom is co-artistic director of Touretteshero and may or may not lead a secret double life as a superhero. Artist, writer and activist, Jess co-founded Touretteshero in 2010. She’s had tics since she was a child but wasn’t diagnosed with Tourettes until her mid-twenties. With encouragement from her friends, Jess turned her tics into a source of imaginative creativity and Touretteshero was born.

21.00–22.00: Urgent! by Arada Company– World premiere

Urgent! is a performance theatre piece that brings together interdisciplinary experiences. In this performance, choreographer Serkan Bozkurt and the Arada Company team, mostly comprised of early-career disabled artists, focus their discourse on the social exclusion experiences of disabled people and their reflection on our daily communication practices.

The performance, in which the actors and dancers shared their obstacles, successes, disappointments and goals with the participants, was specially designed for the Unlimited Forum and met the audience for the first time.

Choreographer: Serkan Bozkurt
Performers: Asu Dağlı, Asya Bozkurt, Buse Karaca, Fatoş Öger Aydınoğlu, Kaan Çolakoğlu, Lütfü Kerim Mazı
Production assistants: Yeliz Kılıç, Asu Dağlı, Ece Cirit
Director Assistant, Dance trainer: Saime Bozkurt
Accessible Arts Consultant: Eser Epözdemir
Dramaturgy: Egemen Kalyon, Evren Erbatur
Costume: Fulya Evrim Yavaş
Coordinator: Evrim Doğan Mercan
60’ with no intermissions.

Friday, 3 February 2023 - Daytime Programme

.Location: Yapı Kredi bomontiada fourth floor

13.30–15.00: Panel 1: What is Access to Culture?

  • Moderator: Deniz Yazgan Şenay
  • Speakers: Çiğdem Aslantaş (Bongo Art Project, Ankara), Hakan Elbir (Istanbul Social Enterprise, Istanbul), Zeynep Şölen Yıldız (Accessible Everything and Theatre Co-operative), Ezgi Yalınalp (Puruli Culture & Arts, Ankara)

15.00–15.45: Coffee break and mini concert by the Kaan Çelen Trio

15.45–17.15: Panel 2: Accessible Art: is it a Myth?

  • Moderator: Neil Webb, Director Theatre and Dance, British Council, UK
  • Speakers: Kimberley Harvey (Director of Youth Dance Programme, Candoco Dance Company, UK), Marko Pejovic (Executive Director, Off the Frame/Van okvira, Serbia), Anastasiya Voytyuk (Director, Unbeaten Path, Ukraine), Ketevan Zazanashvili (Founder and President of Georgian National Wheelchair Dance Sport Federation / Artistic Director at Tbilisi Inclusive Dance Co, Georgia)

17.15–18.00: Networking and Kaan Çelen Trio

Watch recordings of panel here

Friday, 3 February 2023 - Evening Programme

Location: Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Bomonti Campus, Second floor

20.30–22.00: Embodying Fragments – Dance with Different Bodies

‘My eyelid is slowly closing. It's 11:00. Here we go, someone says, hovering over my bed. The field is as it should be. Clean, cold and blue. Silverfish sticking out of my left breast, untidy, with algae on the hook. I see the world in my eye drops as it goes down, it softens. Embodying Fragments carries the embodied clues of the life I cannot describe with the bodies of my dreams.’ Tuğçe U. Tuna

Dance with Different Bodies was founded in Istanbul in 2000 by Tuğçe Ulugün Tuna, a dance artist, choreographer, academic and transformative activist. Within the scope of the project, it has been carrying out regular workshops specially designed for children and adults and, since 2001, it has been performing together with its artists in various interdisciplinary artistic projects. In addition to being a pioneer in its field in Turkey, Dance with Different Bodies is a community whose movement research methods are shared in international organisations, and which attracts attention with its performances. Tugce Ulugün Tuna continues her works with various workshops and shows, focusing on the diversity and transformation in the intellectual, sensory and plastic structure of the body through Dance with Different Bodies, which she defines as ‘my strategy of liberating dance from the body.’

Concept and Choreography by: Tuğçe Ulugün Tuna
Repetiteurs: Pınar Akyüz, Hilal Sibel Pekel
Dancers: Sedat Akçam, Pınar Akyüz, Erdinç Anaz, Gülçin Erdiş, Aybike İpekçi, Kerim Keküç, Muhsin Öngel, Umut Özdaloğlu, Gülsen Ürek, Eda Tavacı, Tuğçe U. Tuna, Aynur Yıldırım.
Sound Design: Vahit Tuna, Ah Kosmos!, Tuğçe U. Tuna
Light Technical: Hilal Sibel Pekel, Güray Doğru
60’, no intermissions.

Saturday, 4 February 2023 - Programme

12.00 – 12.35: Children play: Elephant from an Egg - in Turkish.
Dance theatre for Neurodiverse Children and Young People.

Dance, puppetry and live music are the essence of this dance theatre piece. 

Four performers accompany an elephant as he continuously goes through new challenges. The percussion and the transverse flute, the rhythm of life and melodies, lead the young audience into a fantasy world where an elephant hatches from an egg and dreams can fly.

“Elephant from an Egg" is about growing up and dealing with change, showing the friendships that make the impossible possible. 

Atta Festival collaborated with Israel's Safe Place Festival and Munich based artist Ceren Oran & Moving Borders to adapt “Elephant from an Egg" to perform for children with neurodiverse children. This is the first ever international collaboration in Turkey, specifically adapted for children and young people with autism spectrum.

Art direction, choreography: Ceren Oran
Choreography, puppetry design: Roni Sagi
Music: Tuncay Acar, Magdalena Kriss
Illustration: Christoph Gredler
Dramaturgy: Susanne Lipinski
Performers: Burcu Yılmaz, Kadem Murat Demir, Çağıl Kaya, Necmi Taşkıran.
Consultation: Safe Place Festival
Lenght: 35 min
This performance is produced with the generous support of Goethe Institute ve Israel Consulate General-Istanbul.
Location: Yapı Kredi bomontiada, 4th floor

13.00 – 14.30: Workshop: Dance with Different Bodies – The Other Body

The workshop proposed kinaesthetic experimental approaches that centred on the body as a ‘bridge’ in different contexts.

Location: MSGSÜ Bomonti Campus, second floor 

13.00 - 15.00: Accessible Lines - From Illustration to Visual Description: An Experiment

Developed and organised by disabled illustrator, comics artist and designer Hatiye Garip; the workshop aimed to make the work of students and illustrators more accessible for blind and visually impaired people through inclusive designand audio description. 


Youth Training Programme

In collaboration with the Yücel Culture Foundation, Unlimited Forum developed a training programme for university students. Students attended training sessions on inclusion, disability theory, accessibility and body perception delivered by professionals. Students then had the opportunity to join the Unlimited Forum team as volunteers to put their training into practice.